10-21-2010, 01:12 PM
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| | UFC 121 Preview: Tito Ortiz, Matt Hamill Battle Age, Each Other in Light Heavyweight
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UFC 121 Preview: Tito Ortiz, Matt Hamill Battle Age, Each Other in Light Heavyweight Contest |
by Leland Roling on Oct 21, 2010 3:00 PM EDT in UFC Event
Age has an interesting effect on the modern-day athlete. Brett Favre, Jamie Moyer, and Michael Jordan are just a few of the athletes in many of the other major sports in which middle-aged meant success, and Randy Couture has proven that mixed martial arts hasn't been excluded from those unbelievable feats. But with every successful middle-aged athlete comes the countless others who dived into mediocrity as they climbed into their 30's.
Tito Ortiz (15-7-1, 14-7-1 UFC) could be described as one of those "others", and while the jury is still out as to whether his lengthy history of injuries has been the culprit of his lackluster performances -- it's hard to deny the fact that the 35-year-old isn't affected by his age. Some may argue that if Randy Couture can do it, anyone can, but age affects us all differently. Fortunately for Ortiz, he'll have a chance to put a dent in that theory as he battles former NCAA wrestler Matt Hamill (10-2, 8-2 UFC) in the lone light heavyweight battle on the UFC 121 main card on Saturday night.
Ortiz's last victory inside the Octagon came at Ortiz vs. Shamrock III: The Final Chapter back in October of 2006. Yeah, that's right, fans. It's been four years since Ortiz has won a fight. A UFC 66 championship loss to Chuck Liddell, a draw with Rashad Evans at UFC 73, a clowning at the hands of Lyoto Machida at UFC 84, and a lackluster performance against Forrest Griffin at UFC 106 cover those four years, and Ortiz's motto continues to echo the same phrase -- he'll be back.
Unfortunately, we haven't seen him back in quite a long time. He has gotten slightly better since his injuries have fully healed, but we only have one fight to base that on -- a battle with Forrest Griffin at UFC 106. Even in defeat, Ortiz hinted at the fact that he had injuries that plagued him, and fans have grown tired. Perhaps Ortiz is telling the truth, but that would only indicate in my mind that his age is definitely a problem as he breaks the upper 30's.
His opponent, Matt Hamill, hasn't suffered the same depletion in his skills. In fact, he's gotten better over the last few years. He did drop losses to Rich Franklin and Michael Bisping, and he was absolutely crushed by Jon Jones in their December of 2009 showdown. But those fighters are still in the mix at the top of their respective divisions, and Hamill did manage to defeat some respectable fighters in Keith Jardine and Mark Munoz.
One might say both of these fighters are rather one-dimensional in that they tend to try to wrestle their opponents to the ground and pound them out quickly. Hamill is much more suited to that style, although he's been improving his stand-up to the point in which he's been effective against average punchers. Ortiz has turned to a similar style, but it remains to be seen whether that was due to necessity because of his injuries. A completely healthy Ortiz may revert to the style that once won him championships.
Since there are some questions with Ortiz's health coming into any fight, I must rely solely on his most recent performance against Forrest Griffin, which was, for lack of a better word, awful. Hamill takes Ortiz the distance and wins via decision in this encounter. Hamill's kickboxing may not be great, but its worlds better than what we've seen from Ortiz.
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